May is Foster Care Awareness Month, and our theme for the observance is “It Takes a Village.” In this post, we talked to a business that hires former foster youth as interns.
Want to help a youth who is aging out of foster care gain job experience, build a résumé, and start adult life on the right foot? If you’re a business local to La Verne, we have a deal for you!
“We’ve had three or four interns,” says Autumn Washington, operations director of the San Dimas Chamber of Commerce, located in the historic Martin House about a mile and a half from the David & Margaret Youth and Family Services campus. “I usually reach out at the end of one internship and say ‘okay, I’m ready for another one!’”
The Youth Workforce Training Program (YWTP) is David & Margaret's most unique program, and one of few programs of its type in California. It takes an individualized approach to providing for the needs of former foster youth. This customized approach allows for each individual to gain the skills they need to be life ready, workforce ready, and in some cases ready to progress into an educational setting.
Employment/Education Specialist Jessie Sandoval works individually with each young adult helping to prepare them for success during their internship placement (and future job placement), and provides immediate feedback, assistance and extra support when necessary. When they are ready, each youth will be placed in 160-hour, paid job-training internships and/or will participate in bi-weekly job and independent living skills classes to ensure that they are able to develop the skills necessary to regain and maintain their independence. The internships are paid by David & Margaret rather than the employer, while the employer has the support of, and provides feedback to, the career coach.
“I really enjoy working with young people,” Autumn says. “I like to see what fields they want to go into and tailor their internship around that. The first one we had wanted to open a beauty shop, so we connected her with Platform Color Salon, which is a member of the Chamber.
“I want to generate opportunities for them, not just have them do training on phones and paperwork,” she adds. “For example, if they’re not familiar with computers or with different programs, I’ll help them with that, or if they’re shy, they certainly aren’t by the end of their internship!”
Click here for more information on how you can offer internship opportunities.